The Dallas Stars said what you'd expect to hear after allowing a team they're directly chasing to score six unanswered goals in the third period of a game they led after 40 minutes.
Six goals. In the third period. After watching the Wings score five in the third and overtime the night before.
Embarrassing, they called it. Their coach referenced the desperate nature of their mathematical situation where the playoff race is concerned. There was no mincing of words. It's very stark at this point. Plain for all to see.
But words don't matter much, and the team still has a chance. The roster is somewhat gutted and the goaltending, from the old sources and the new ones, has not been good. Still, they have a chance to fight, and something to fight for. So we'll learn something about character tonight, and shelve the talk of points and math.
The Jets have lost six of their last ten, though they've done it the right way- Earning points in three of those disappointments. Still, the Minnesota Wild and Los Angeles Kings will pass them soon, if the torrid paces of those two teams continues, and the Jets will be on the bubble if their current trend continues. There's every reason in the world for them to be a hungry, hungry group tonight- Smelling blood in Dallas' little pool.
They've been leaky lately- Very leaky in surrendering four, five, four, four, and three in their last five outings. Not as leaky as some, perhaps, but leaky for a team that has out-shot the opposition 171-143 in that span.
Their special teams in that run have been particularly adventurous- The Jets have scored 6 power play goals on their last 20 attempts, but have also surrendered 9 pp goals to the opposition on their last 25 penalties- Averaging having to kill five per game.
So perhaps there's a silver lining here after all, if the Stars can get a bit of a speed game going to force Winnipeg into some transgressions. Whether or not the officials will whistle said transgressions- Well, it's been a bad week for that, no?
They're good at home, of course. Always good at home. Their only regulation loss at home in their last eight games was to- Why, these Stars! That 5-2 game on January 31st in which Dallas was out-shot 40-32. Three power play goals and a sparkling performance was the formula for Ruff's crew that night, including three points from Tyler Seguin.
Winnipeg enjoyed two entire days off ahead of this one, while the Stars play their third in four nights with a shortened bench, though the Jets could face a slight injury situation themselves.
From the league's official preview of this one:
Defenseman Ben Chiarot was injured in the third period of the Jets' 4-3 overtime loss against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. Chiarot, who had surgery Sunday, will not return to the lineup until April and was placed on injured reserve Monday. Right wing Blake Wheeler, who was hit by a shot in the leg Feb. 19 against the Washington Capitals, did not practice Monday. If Wheeler does not dress, Dustin Byfuglien will remain a forward. The Jets recalled center Eric O'Dell from St. John's of the American Hockey League on Monday. O'Dell has 14 goals and 14 assists in 37 AHL games this season. He played 30 games with Winnipeg last season and had three goals and four assists.
Since the Stars last saw them Winnipeg traded Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian to the Buffalo Sabres for Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford, with a whole host of other considerations going both ways in addition.
That leaves their lineup looking something like this:
Pardy- And either Jay Harrison or Paul Postma
Michael Hutchinson had the hot hand and lost it- But Pavelec also failed over the weekend, so either could be in net tonight, though the guess is Hutchinson.
From Stars PR:
THE KLING AND I
Dallas rookie defenseman John Klingberg notched his 22nd assist of the season on Sunday night and now has points in two-straight games (0-2=2), and three of his last four (0-3=3). Klingberg has recorded eight points (1-7=8) over his last 10 games, and has 14 points (4-10-14) in his last 13. The Gothenburg, Sweden native currently shares fifth among all NHL rookies and is tied for first among all rookie blueliners with 32 points (10-22=32) this season. Klingberg also shares fifth among first-year skaters with 22 assists, while he leads rookie defenseman and shares ninth among all rookie skaters with 10 goals in 46 games.